Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pete McCann - Range (Whirlwind Recordings, 2015)

Pete McCann is a jazz guitarist who leads a strong band featuring John O'Gallagher on saxophones, Henry Hey on keyboards, Matt Clohesy on bass and Mark Ferber on drums. The music is robust modern jazz with fusion overtones and it works quite well. “Kenny” leads off the album with a wash of keyboards and harmonizing saxophone and guitar. McCann breaks out for a nice lengthy solo, building a liquefied tone into something harder and faster before handing off to a the rhythm section for a nice fast section with great piano from Hey. A ripe sounding saxophone solo takes off from there, sounding fast and loose. Everybody comes back and they stick the landing nicely. There is a moody sensibility to “Seventh Jar,” opening with droplets of fractured piano, bass and drums. McCann begins a snarling fusion guitar solo that really rips forth and takes command, before allowing the dynamic to downshift to the calmer yet volatile melody. “Realm” is fast, developing a nimble and sharp melody, with a high speed full band improvisation section, developing a very complex interaction with each other. O’Gallagher rips off a strong and muscular saxophone solo toward the middle of the piece, really making the most of the surroundings to make a great improvised statement. “Mustard” has a choppy and complex melody with thick bass before the group really bursts out very loud with a fanfare that moves into an interesting organ spotlight, and McCann unleashes one of his most rockish guitar solos on this album, sure to delight any John McLaughlin fan with his raw energy and grit. They develop a massive riff to close the tune in a ferocious style. We New Jerseyians are well versed in the real “Bridge Scandal” so it’s nice to hear someone play a musical piss-take on it. Again there is some is some heavy riffing and some strong and bluesy saxophone which surely would have made for great listening if you were trapped in your car in Fort Lee in the middle of summer. McCann takes a solo of laser beams driving the tempo faster really wailing over the top. “Rumble” keeps the speed, but the mood is much more jazzy, with nimble and complex melodies giving way to lightly toned and lively guitar soloing. There’s a strong and swinging saxophone solo that is punchy, bobbing and weaving through the music. The spotlight is handed off to Hey on electric piano for a brightly colored fender rhodes interlude, before everyone comes back in together for a fine conclusion. This album worked quite well, with a combination of strong modern jazz and fusion, the music is kept interesting. The musicianship is first rate and the solos, particularly by the leader and O'Gallagher, were fantastic. Range -

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